Failure to Renew CHIP Jeopardizes Health Care for 350,000 Children Across New York
Federal Cuts to Health Centers Put at Risk Care for 2 Million New Yorkers
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today called on Congress to reinstate federal health care cuts that put 131,862 children at risk in New York City. By failing to reauthorize the Child Health Insurance Plan by October 1st, Congress has slashed $1 billion in funding for New York and jeopardized health care for millions of children across the country, including 350,000 children in New York. This program is the safety gap that provides preventive health care critical for children during this growth period that come from families who don't qualify for Medicaid, but can't afford any other insurance coverage.
In addition, Congress's failure to renew the Health Centers Program by October 1st will cut $138 million in federal funding for New York's 650 federally qualified health center sites. Health centers provide high quality care to 2 million New Yorkers, including the vast majority of care for people underinsured in this state. Indeed, many of the children covered by CHIP use these FQHCs for primary care. These crippling federal cuts will impact all 650 sites in the state.
"It is unconscionable that the federal government is implementing draconian health care cuts that target our children and the most vulnerable among us," Governor Cuomo said. "This is not a partisan issue, and the stakes are too high to continue to play petty politics. I call on Congress to renew these essential health care programs, and I urge all New Yorkers to make their voices heard and tell their representatives to protect our health care."
"New York's health care system is under assault by the federal government, and our children and the most vulnerable among us are their targets," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is traveling the state today with the Governor's message. "We must tell our representatives in Washington to restore funding for the Child Health Insurance Plan and Federally Qualified Health Centers and not to abandon our fellow New Yorkers. Enough is enough. Congress needs to stop playing politics over people's lives."
CHIP is a safety net program that provides coverage for families in New York State who do not qualify for Medicaid, but aren't making enough to afford other insurance options, specifically targeting families up to 400% of the federal poverty level—or a family of three with an income of about $82,000. It started as the Child Health Plus health insurance plan under Governor Mario Cuomo before becoming a national program that serves millions of children across the nation who may not otherwise have access to health coverage.
New York's Child Health Plus includes preventative care such as routine checkups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescription coverage, as well as dental and vision care. New York's Child Health Plus program has been tremendously successful, helping to reduce of the number of uninsured children by 85%, from 700,000 in 1996, to 100,000 in 2017. To continue Child Health Plus without federal funding would cost New York State taxpayers over $1 billion.
At the direction of Governor Cuomo, New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker earlier today issued a letter to the Acting Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan warning that New York cannot continue the current Child Health Plus program without federal funding. Commissioner Zucker said that if Congress fails to renew funding for the program in the next few weeks, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo will have no choice but to call a special session of the Legislature. Read Dr. Zucker's letter here.
New York's FQHCs will also suffer from Congress's failure to reauthorize the non-partisan Health Centers Program. FQHCs provide primary health care services to over two million New Yorkers, including children on CHIP, many of whom may not have any other options for health care. FQHCs serve low-income, minority and senior New Yorkers and if Congress does not act soon, FQHC's across the state will be forced to make painful decisions, potentially leading to reductions in staffing or program closure.
"This Congress is again placing dollar signs before vital signs and putting hundreds of thousands of New York children, and millions of low-income residents, in danger," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, we have made tremendous strides at increasing the number of insured New Yorkers and expanding community-based health care services across our state. I join with Governor Cuomo in his call for federal action and a full restoration of these programs."